Reflections on Preaching the Gospel in Churches
I like to share things hear about the preaching class run by my pastor.
A couple of weeks ago I had to present a sermon outline that I am going to be preaching on 5th August at another church.
My sermon is a Gospel sermon on James 3:1-11. I am going to use the teaching there to show how our speech so often shows our sinful nature and thus our need for a Saviour in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The pastor was quite positive about the outline I presented. He described my approach as using James 3 as what the Puritans called a 'law text,' demonstrating the sinfulness of man. He emphasised that this was quite legitimate and that any passage of Scripture could be used to preach the Gospel.
The other men in the class were rather more uncomfortable with my approach. They seemed to think it would be better to apply the text as a message for believers, after all it was directed to Christians.
The fact is that the only text in Scripture that is written specifically for unbelievers is the Gospel of John. It is the only book of the Bible that is written to evangelize the lost. If one is only going to use evangelistic texts to preach Gospel sermons, one can only preach evangelistic sermons from the Gospel of John.
However, preaching is not simply giving exposition or exegesis of the Word of God, it is applying it in a relevant and powerful way. It is bringing up application, even if that is only indirectly implied in the text.
The Gospel can be found throughout the scripture. The Gospel may not be revealed in James chapter 3, but that passage reveals the sinfulness of man and his depraved nature. Thus, it shows man's need for that divine life that is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I am going to preach the Gospel from that text.
Some people question the necessity of preaching the Gospel in churches. They argue we should do our evangelism outside of church, which we certainly should. So often the Gospel is preached in congregations of just a few faithful and godly believers.
However, we must continue to preach the Gospel in churches. For one thing, we cannot always be sure that everyone in our church is a true believer. There may be many in the church who have never truly believed. The church I am preaching in is almost certainly Calvinist and almost certainly affected by Lordship Salvation. There maybe many there who are true believers, yet who have lost their assurance because of the legalism of Calvinism. They need to hear the simple gospel of grace.
And all believers need to be reminded of the Gospel and the message of our Lord's saving work. It is good to again and again hear that old, old story.